Microscopic plankton form the base of the marine food-chain and account for more than half of global primary production, and hence moderating our climate through the ocean’s ability to drawdown CO2. Plankton community structure is closely tied to the bioavailability of micronutrients, through regulatory effects that control the distribution and growth of different species and taxa. Within the marine realm the concentrations of biologically important metallic elements, namely Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn and Se are extremely low, typically in the nano- (10-9) to pico- (10-12) molar range; these low concentrations make seawater an extreme environment for the existence of life, and require phytoplankton to have evolved ultra-efficient uptake systems for acquisition of metals to meet their metabolic needs. The overarching aim of the AusTraceMarine group is to constrain the sources and cycling of trace elements in the marine environment and their influence on marine primary production.
RV Tangaroa, Tasman Sea 2006